Healthy Living: Allergies, cold, the flu, coronavirus? What your symptoms could mean


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SEATTLE -- Right now it is pretty easy to live in a state or paranoia. That tickle in my throat, could it be coronavirus? Maybe, maybe not.

This time of year, trees are blooming and flowers are popping up and so are allergies and other issues.

Dr. Drew Oliveira is the Senior Executive Medical Director at Regence BlueShield and he says when it comes to allergies, here are the signs.

“First is, sneezing, stuffy nose, congestion, maybe a headache. Second would be watery or itchy eyes. The third thing is allergies don’t come along with a fever or body aches or things like that.”

Dr. Oliveira says if you just have the sneezing and watery eyes, it is likely just allergies. If you have had allergies in the past, he says take your allergy medication and if you feel better afterward, it was pretty easy to self-diagnose that it’s just allergies.

But what if that doesn’t work: is it just a cold?

“Common colds are common. Runny nose, maybe a sore throat, maybe a low grade fever, you know 100 point 5, doesn’t typically have muscle aches and things like that.”

Speaking of common, Dr. Oliveria says the flu is incredibly common right now, and will become less common as we enter the warmer months.

“Flus have fever, body aches, feeling tired, usually a headache, also can have some G.I. disturbances, nausea or abdominal pain.”

Now COVID-19 and the flu present themselves very similarly and Dr. Oliveria says coronavirus can impact people differently. As for the common symptoms when it comes to coronavirus,

“Typically presents with a cough and or shortness of breath. Has fever associated with that and has those muscle aches and really people feel very, very tired.”

So how do you know the difference? And when does it go from nothing to worry about, to something more serious?

Dr. Oliveria says if you are concerned, the first thing to do is take your temperature.

“If your temperature is over 100.5 we recommend that you talk to you physician, they will run through a series of questions to see if you should or should not be tested, or can convalesce at home.”

He says if you are staying home and feeling a little under the weather, Tylenol is a great option. He says if things get worse—like maybe you can’t catch your breath just walking from one room to another, you should contact your physician about being tested for COVID-19.

Finally, Dr. Oliveria says use the CDC’s website for questions and concerns, as it is constantly updating.

For instance, they just released new guidelines advising people to wear masks while out and about to help control the spread of coronavirus.


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